As we wrote in our last prayer letter, one of our highest priorities this past semester was to establish our "Whole Campus" vision. We trusted the Lord to create the world at Penn State where professors believed that they were allowed to reach students, where students believed that they could reach professors, and where professors and students believed that God was calling them to work together to bring the gospel o the whole campus and ultimately to the whole world.
To help see that happen, we asked you to pray with us for two major events-our first-ever Faculty at Cru meeting and our first-ever Faculty Appreciation Dinner. Thanks so much for praying! We are overwhelmed at how greatly God moved in our midst.
The Faculty at Cru meeting took place on January 31st during the regular Cru meeting that week. But for the 200 students that attended, it was anything but regular! The whole night was focused on the whole campus-- professors and students ministering to one another and together. It was an opportunity for our professors to have an audience with students. And it was hopefully going to be an opportunity for students to walk out of the room believing that they could in fact reach out into the lives of their professors. And that's what happened. It was so cool. It could not have gone any better. God is always kind and we got to see His kindness in a big way that night!
The evening was centered around a panel of four Christian professors involved with us and our Faculty Commons movement. We asked them what it was like to be a Christian and to be a Christian professor on campus. We asked them to share what it was like to reach out to their students as Christian professors. And we asked them to talk about and encourage our students in ways that they themselves could reach out to their professors.
Two professors on the panel have been believers for a long time, and they were able to provide encouragement for our other professors and our students of what it was like to have walked with God for a long time and to trust Him for their lives as professors.
The two other Christian professors on the panel came to faith in the last three years. They were able to provide a real fresh perspective on what it was like for them to embrace Christ as professors and, in fact, see God use students in their lives to help them come to faith. It was remarkable. You could not have asked for a better endorsement or a better challenge for our students to hear than professors themselves saying "Hey, please come into our lives. We're just normal people. We need the gospel, too."
In fact, one of the professors shared how God used two separate students powerfully in his life when he experienced a major life trauma shortly after becoming a Christ-follower. Both students (on separate occasions) observed the professor really struggling in class and came up after class to pray for him. And they had no idea where he was spiritually. The professor shared that God used those two students to keep him from walking away from Jesus.
In other words, we basically had professors begging our students to reach out into the lives of other professors. Isn't that awesome?!
After the panel, Ashley took a few minutes to reassure and encourage any of the students that still struggled with the thought that they had nothing to offer professors. He taught briefly from Acts 4: 13 and shared that the gospel always comes by the power of God but through the humility of men and women. He shared, "if you are a student and you are thinking that you have nothing to offer professors, the power of God is designed to come through your having nothing to offer professors in and of yourself...Your position as a student is not a liability that we'll somehow have to overcome but an asset through which the power of God will be released on our campus. Got it? And when God does it we will have the joy of saying it was all Him. And we will have the joy of seeing Him do something that we would have never done on our own. And it will be glorious! It will be something that you will tell your kids about some day."
After that we shared with our students that we wanted to give them a straightforward and easy way to step out in faith and into the lives of their professors. We pitched the idea of the Faculty Appreciation Dinner to them, and they left that night completely on board and excited to see what God would do.
God did in fact "do something that we would have never done on our own" during the Faculty Appreciation Dinner. In fact, the story is too good to fit in here. We'll tell you all about it in our letter to you next month. In the meantime, please know again how grateful we are for your partnership with us as we seek to go after the whole campus at Penn State.
Rejoicing with you,
Heather & Ashley